Fleece has long been an outdoor staple because it’s cozy, warm, and fast-drying. It’s great at keeping us comfy—and terrible for the planet. Sorry for the downer, but recent research has shown that fleece and other synthetic fabrics shed microfibers at an alarming rate. One garment can shed 700,000 fibers in a single wash. The International Union for Conservation of Nature estimates that 35 percent of all microplastic pollution comes from textiles.
So that’s the bad news. The good news is that there are a few things you can do about it. For starters, you can buy quality apparel (it sheds less) and wash it only when necessary. Second, you can use a laundry bag that captures microfibers (we gave an Editors’ Choice Green Award to the Guppyfriend in 2018) or install a filter on your washing machine and use a front loader, which reduces shedding. And now, you can get Polartec Power Air, a new fleece that sheds five times less than comparable fabrics, according to Polartec’s testing.
How’s it work? For textile geeks: Polartec says it has pioneered a way to encapsulate lofted fibers in a multilayer, continuous-yarn fabric construction. For the rest of us: Power Air minimizes shedding by minimizing exposed fibers; they’re encased in the knitting process.
Currently, the new fabric is available in the adidas Power Air Fleece (pictured; $180) and a fleece made by Houdini (more brands are soon to follow). We expect to see lighter versions of the fleece in the future, and Polartec says the anti-shedding technology will also be applied to other apparel categories, like baselayers, insulation, and shells.